Grid Maintenance: all silent on the Linden front

On Friday, I drafted a piece on the lack of direct feedback from Linden Lab vis-a-vis the recent rounds of maintenance carried out on the 8th, 9th and 10th May. I held off publishing  because I opted to wait until Close of Business in California to see if anything would be forthcoming. Then I got involved in other things, and completely pushed the post out of my head.

In the meantime, Tateru has, with her usual incisiveness asked the question I was planning to ask, but far more succinctly and directly. It’s a good read, and I suggest that if you haven’t you go read it – if only to save yourselves from hearing the same old, same old from me.

Elsewhere – well, Nalates Urriah’s blog to be precise – it may appear that the poor state of communications isn’t restricted to the amount of information flowing out of the company to the users, but many extend to internal communications within the Lab. In her piece, and in reference to the maintenance periods, she reports that Andrew Linden commented:

I think part of that is an operating system upgrade on some hosts, not network level maintenance, but I’m not sure. We’re definitely working on migrating to later versions of Debian, but there will be a few upgrades along the way before we arrive at Debian/Squeeze.

Andrew, together with many of the other Linden staff involved in User Group meetings usually try to be as informative as possible. Following the outage of the 26th April, for example Oskar attempted to provide some explanation via the forums, as Jack Abraham pointed out on this blog, and Daniel Voyager later reported via his.

So when you do see normally forthcoming staff using terms like “I think,” and “I’m not sure,” when describing a situation that impacts the entire SL service, it’s a little disconcerting, and might be seen as suggesting internal communications at LL may be lacking. After all, Andrew is a part of a group of LL staff who do face users, and who are likely to get asked the hard questions when something major is going on, so you’d perhaps expect the company to ensure they are furnished with sufficient information to be able to field such questions with a measure of clarity.

There was a time when we would see blog reports related to upcoming service improvements, and posts on outage postmortems. But no more. Instead, we’re left hanging or having to resort to scrabbling around the forums in the hope that someone has had the foresight to say something. And while it is great that news is frequently passed out at User Group meetings, not everyone attends these, so the message tends to go more unheard than heard.

Simply put: there is no substitute for clear, open communications – and however you look at it, the SL blogs are the best place to communicate when it comes to major announcements and service issues. In these cases, all other channels should point back to the blog, not used in place of the blog. As Tateru points out, the Grid still isn’t the most stable of environments following the recent work; we have no idea as to what the general status of the grid is or what is going on – and that leaves us guessing.

Going on Andrew’s comments, we may not be the only ones. Either way, it would be nice if someone at Linden Lab stepped up to the keyboard and took a little time to let their users and customers know exactly what is / has been going on, and how things stand.

9 thoughts on “Grid Maintenance: all silent on the Linden front

  1. I am a firm supporter of Second Life and the potencial it has. I believe that there are people working at Linden Lab who do care for what they are doing and who comit themselves to Second Life. Having said this, it completely baffles me how a company of millions of dollars does not hire a solid crew of PR/communication people to deal with this ever growing issue, an issue which clearly is not only a problem to the “exterior” but also within the company as well. Corporate dynamics are a complex thing, yes. But if a problem prevails as long as this one has, and with growing damages too, isn’t it fair to expect to see this matter being dealt with? Communication is a fundamental piece in the success of a company. No communication means sinking. Hopefully Linden Lab will wake up soon… And I do hope this is not naive wishful thinking.

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  2. LL internal policy note: All staff who regularly communicate with the residents are hereby relegated to mushroom status. Make them look good, but keep them in the dark.

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  3. Simply put, if you have upcoming planned maintenance then announce it beforehand.

    Don’t insult our intelligence by explaining unplanned outages after the event as “planned maintenance” because, if it really was planned, then why did you not announce it beforehand?

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    1. These three events were pre-announced. There was no announcement that any of the sessions were completed.

      This is consistent with what Andrew Linden said. When we had a lot of OS-level maintenance going on last year, we had the same pattern of missing completion announcements.

      I could get very rude about the people responsible for this. They’re not the worst of the Lindens for communication, but the nature of the warning makes an end-of-session announcement necessary. It’s thoroughly unprofessional.

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  4. That the Lab has an inability to communicate properly with it’s customers is the stuff of legends. That it now appears that inability extends to communicating with each other takes it to a whole new level of disbelief. Words fail me..

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